Dear Mothers, Not in My Own Words

For this holiday, where the history is buried beneath piles of Hallmark cards, I feature another woman’s words, a Mother’s in fact…

For this holiday, where the history is buried beneath piles of Hallmark cards, I feature another woman’s words, a Mother’s in fact…

Revolution From Home : 

In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most

Beth-Berry-1Written by Beth Berry. A mother of 4 daughters. She’s a writer, adventurer, life coach, and works for women’s empowerment and strengthening the magical, courageous sisterhood that is our birthright.

I share her words, because I couldn’t have written it, nor said it better myself. It’s an incredible read and hits the core of the amazing work women are doing in the world, the incredible mothers they are, even without their greatest support network they so respectfully deserve — the village.

 

Want to know the history of Mother’s Day in the U.S.?
Julia-Ward-howe
(http://peacealliance.org)

Mother’s Day was not created by Hallmark, but by a revolutionary warrior for peace. Julia Ward Howe — abolitionist, activist and poet — was the founder of the original Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Tired of war, tired of nationalism being valued above the lives of the vulnerable, her pain became her mission. She called out for revolution. She called the day of the revolution: MOTHER’S DAY.
(Source: http://thecompassioncollective.org)

Who Put the Free in Responsibility?

freenresp“We can be just as free as we are responsible.”
— Fred Rogers, The Cosmic Shed

These are not just words of wisdom to speak by, they are a practice to learn how to live by. The next step in learning the dance of Collabortive Relationships, we feature:

Accepting personal & social responsibility.

Blue spiralWe know the “blame game” all too well: “you did this… you did that…you started it.” We spiral down into a hole of tit-for-tat exchange. Truth be told—this is verbal abuse and this is how many are communicating through conflict with each other. We are hitting, smacking, kicking, and beating each other down with our words. This is why we feel so hurt when we walk away from arguments that are based on a reactionary social model. I call it verbal violence.

I remember when I realized my responsibility in participating in verbally abusive interactions, even if I didn’t intend to, or was unaware. I found myself in screaming matches with my partner at the time and one accusation led to another. All the while, I was a self-acclaimed peace activist. Something wasn’t adding up. If I wasn’t finding a way to resolve a conflict peacefully with someone so intimate, I couldn’t claim to be a peace advocate. I went searching for answers.

Non-Violent Communication (NVC) 000060840027_WEB-600x396developed by Marshall Rosenberg has shined the light on our socialized communication tactics that we (often unconsciously) use with each other. Culturally, through media, social norms, and relationship examples around us, we are constantly witnessing unhealthy communication styles rooted in reaction and violence. NVC was a wake up call to accepting my responsibility with how I interacted with my partner. It was hard to face the truth of how my intention (peacefulness) didn’t line up with my behavior (unhealthy communication). As an activist for peace, I was actually doing so much to help the “other side” so to speak—literally. I would be a phony if I didn’t pay tribute to Rosenberg’s NVC work and how it has contributed to my own education in unlearning a violent communication style (which is a constant work in progress).

In my own work, I found that the violence perpetuated by our cultural communication model exists due to the inability to accept personal responsibility i.e. the unwillingness to admit to a weakness, confront a truth, or apologize for one’s actions. I have found that when people accept personal responsibility, it

»  removes the roles of a villain vs. victim dynamic.
»  allows us to be truly honest with ourselves and speak from that place.
»  builds trustworthiness and integrity.
»  strengthens our vulnerability muscle.
»  engages conscious participation in the creation of our lives.
»  opens the doors to thinking about creative solutions, rather than re-living destructive problems.
»  invites people to be accountable in the creation of a situation or conflict.
»  creates openness to hear, respect, and understand one another.
»  engages learning how to navigate healthy conflict.
»  creates a feeling of deeper connection and being known unto each other.

1496_2574When we admit to our personal responsibility in interactions and find resolve by doing so, we are taken out of the confines and cages that blame, dishonesty, verbal violence, assumption, and unconsciousness create. We stand strong in owning-up to who we are with grace. We speak our personal truths. We claim our self-respect. We expand our ability to understand. But most importantly, we open-up and we let each other in. Responsibility is part of how we find the freedom to love and be loved as we truly are.

The First Step to this Dance is Humanity

Last week, in Intro to Collaborative Relationships, we explored the idea of collaboration as a way to work together and move in harmony with one another.

This week, my plan was to begin highlighting the important building-blocks in cultivating Collaborative Relationships, beginning with:

The Willingness to Meet Each Other

But, before I opened up my blog to begin writing, 3 things happened:

  1. A friend sent me a video that described the very essence of my message—the first step in the willingness to meet each other exists when we remember our humanity first.
  2. I noticed the running theme of DANCE throughout all my articles.
  3. I chucked my original plan…

This week, in support of keeping my theme going, I decided to let my own words rest and let this video do the talking. Enjoy!

We Came To Dance, by Tasha Blanks

 

 

Intro to Collaborative Relationships

 Experience both freedom AND commitment within a relationship of your own making.

So we’ve gone through The Mating Dance of the Honeymoon Phase.
We’ve arrived at the next phase and welcomed Coupledom.

danceThis week, I’d like to share the kind of relationships I participate in and help facilitate for others to enjoy. It’s about learning to move together, rather than all on one’s own. It’s about asking for what you need, rather than wishing another could read your mind. It’s about owning your desires, rather than keeping them a forbidden secret. It’s about following through in making your dreams come true, while receiving total support. It’s about taking responsibility for your life, while being lovingly held accountable through it. It’s about Collaboration.

Being collaborative ensures that the individuals involved create a relationship that has the ability to shift dynamics based on their needs, desires, and circumstances that arise through life. People can safely adapt when needed, and allow for individual growth, both together and apart. Collaborative relationships encourage a willingness to work with each other, rather than against one another. Unfortunately, the modern, competitive social model for relating fosters the latter. The collaborative approach is a social model that fosters teamwork & partnership. This way of relating includes ALL kinds of relationships – from romantic to familial and from monogamous to polyamorous.

Dear Readers, what does collaborative mean to you?
Please submit your answers. With your permission, your submissions may be used in future articles. 

 

 

 

 

Coupledom. It Takes Two…

The Honeymoon Phase featured in last week’s article is over.
We’ve done our individual mating-dances to attract one another and we stand at a crossroads:

IMG_2427-copy1

The Honeymoon Phase featured in last week’s article is over.
We’ve done our individual mating-dances to attract one another and we stand at a crossroads:

this-way-that-way1That Way. We can continue to dance alone, separately, doing our own thing.

   OR

This Way. We can learn how to dance together, as a team.

lostandfoundphotography_0088-600x396That Way is where many of us remain in relationships, whether realized or not. We may call ourselves a “couple” but don’t know how to operate as a cohesive team. The fixation with the Honeymoon Phase is a reluctance (often unconscious) to learn and grow in the relationship. This leads to stagnancy that create feelings of being trapped, and is often combined with unhealthy communication and unconscious habits. This sets most relationships up for failure, whether ending badly or continue with us feeling unfulfilled and “unhappily ever after.”

In choosing This Way, let me personally welcome us to the second phase of the blossoming romance—Coupledom. It’s a chapter that remains a mystery to us as we so rarely see it in film, fairytales, or most mainstream stories for that matter. The credits roll and we exit the theater daydreaming of yet another “happily ever after” for a couple who’s story ends just when the romance can really begin… and even get better.

So, how can we do Coupledom exactly?

images-3First, acceptance of reality helps. Like all things, relationships grow. They move, they expand, and they deepen. This is perfectly natural and signified in different relationship phases. Some phases are a natural part of overall relationship development. Other phases are perfectly attuned to the people involved. Every phase has it’s own pace, it’s own timing, it’s own lessons. Each person involved in the relationship has their own needs, desires, lessons, and set of circumstances within each phase. These ingredients are important dynamics that create the experience of the relationship itself. In Coupledom, people actively make their relationship together.

Secondly, celebrate the change in phases. Coupledom is a relationship milestone for two people to cultivate their interdependence with one another. Entering into couple-hood is about exploring compatibility, authenticity, vulnerability, values, and each other more deeply. This is the domain of building trust—from greater self-discovery to facing fears. Showing up in conflict, honoring triumphs, enthusiasm for each other’s interests, and receiving each other’s vulnerability are all paramount in strengthening trust, and therefore strengthening togetherness.

As the couple learns more about each other, they make mutual agreements about their
relationship. These agreements stem from honest conversations and check-ins about eachcouple_talking_relationship other’s:

»  needs & wants
»  feelings about the relationship
»  external circumstances that affect the relationship

This builds the overall framework of their relationship, which includes the ability to make new agreements as things naturally shift & change over time. The couple learns how to make necessary adjustments that support each other. The relationship then becomes asensual dance1 partner dance of interplay between the two. Like dance, it is fun, sensual, meaningful, and mistakes are made along the way, but they are understood as a part of the learning process. With practice, the people find their solid, fluid, movements of relating to one another. This is what a healthy rhythm, or dynamic, between two people feels like.

Coupledom is not about dancing alone. Truth Be Told, hyper-indivualistic “independence” must be kicked to the curb. Interdependence must be embraced in order to enjoy meaningful, lasting relationships. Interdependence is a distinct  We, in which independence and dependence dance as equally valuable counterparts in relating. If people would be willing to drop their own mating-dances when the time comes for the sake of discovering their rhythm as a couple, a whole new level of romance awaits.

The Mating Dance

You’re both elated and can’t stop thinking about each other. You want to spend all your time together. Congratulations, you have just entered the Honeymoon phase. Welcome to the easiest part of your relationship.

IMG_2245-copy1In the beginning, there’s an explosion. Fireworks spark between you and another. Life suddenly makes sense. It feels like you finally know why you are here. Everything you ever did, every decision, every person you met led you here, to meet this amazing person. You find out that you’re not alone in your feelings and they feel the same way. You’re both elated and can’t stop thinking about each other. You want to spend all your time together. Congratulations, you have just entered the Honeymoon phase. Welcome to the easiest part of your relationship.

Fireworks may not have exploded for all of us when we met our significant others. It doesn’t matter. Relationships have ever evolving phases & dynamics. The first phase is the Honeymoon. We know it well. We put our best foot forward and show our best sides. It’s a phase that has no timeline. If it did, we might try to prevent the end at all costs. When this seemingly blissful, romantic phase comes to a close, there is only one thing knocking at the door to greet us—reality—at its finest.

lookat1This is when a certain level of comfort sets in and we are no longer performing at our highest, best, and ideal self. We find ourselves right back in the middle of our journey in becoming. What happened? We look to our partners. The things that used to be cute and endearing are now somewhat annoying. Who they seemed to be in the beginning, they aren’t living up to anymore. We’re feeling somewhat duped. What changed?

Descanso-gardens-engagement-4

 

“Is it me? Is it my partner? Are we compatible?”
—The questions arise.

 

lost-and-found-photography-14
“He used to be so affectionate.”
“She used to just come along, even when it wasn’t her thing.”
“They never want to go out anymore.”
—Ahhh, remembering when.

 

 

13788-couple-talking-bed-white-argument-wide.1200w.tn“You’ve changed.”
“You’re different.”
“You’re not who I thought you were.

—The blaming begins.

1496_2574


“Why can’t things go back to the way they were?”
—We’re holding on to a time when things were “perfect.”

 

000085260035

 


“How did we get here?”
—We wonder…

 

 

Well, I’ll tell you just how we got here. I call it, the Mating Dance. Let’s go back, shall we?
In the beginning is when…

» we put our ideal self forward.
» first impressions are formed.
» the first dynamic of the relationship is created.

974b532d2811cf7e4a698536a91c22f8The Mating Dance is the first dynamic. It’s the courting performance every animal does to entice a mate. Humans are no different. Whether aware of it or not, our euphoria kicks in and we try to show up as attractive as possible to our person of interest. It’s basic biology. In this state, it’s not that hard being our ideal self either. It feels easy in fact. However, seeing this ideal self initially makes an expectation that is hard to let go of once reality knocks. This mating ritual is often the only part of romance that is portrayed in most movie plots and unfortunately, these are the examples we learn from. Which means, the basis of our relationship knowledge stems from a simple snapshot, usually fictional. Couples lose sight of the reality of relationships as a whole.

torrey-pines-engagement-13When reality knocks, let’s get realistic about the Mating Dance too. This dynamic happens between two people who don’t know each other very well. They show off their ideal selves based solely on themselves as individuals. They meet as distinct I‘s or Me‘s. When the Mating Dance dynamic wears off, bringing the Honeymoon phase to a close, the next natural phase of romance awaits. The ecstatic euphoria has calmed down. We feel free to let go, relax, and get real. Congratulations, we’re now comfortable enough, and some needed trust has been built. Remember, this is only the beginning. There is much to come. A new chapter lies ahead, and when we are aware of it and willing, it involves a distinct We. I call this Coupledom.

Next week’s article will feature Coupledom and its dynamics.